WHO to deploy 4,000 vaccines in DR Congo Ebola response

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The global health outfit, World Health Organisation (WHO) says it has obtained 4,000 doses of Ebola vaccine and is preparing for deployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

WHO’s Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, told Reuters on Sunday: “We’re working on the deployment of these materials, especially readying the cold chain. The start date of the vaccinations will depend on this deployment.”

The deadly Ebola virus resurfaced in DRC last week pushing the WHO is quickly move in to liaise with authorities in the country to contain the spread.

WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom, arrived in the DRC last Saturday along with other top officials to help with the response. Tedros and Moeti were joined by Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Pete Salama and other experts.

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in the central African nation, whose eastern Ebola river gave the deadly virus its name when it was discovered there in the 1970s, and comes less than a year after its last outbreak which killed eight people.

Ebola is believed to be spread over long distances by bats, which can host the virus without dying, as it infects other animals it shares trees with such as monkeys. It often spreads to humans via infected bushmeat.

Before the outbreak was confirmed, local health officials reported 21 patients showing signs of hemorrhagic fever around the village of Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro. Seventeen of those later died.

After Congo’s last Ebola flare-up, authorities there approved the use of a new experimental vaccine but in the end did not deploy it owing to logistical challenges and the relatively minor nature of the outbreak.

The worst Ebola epidemic in history ended in West Africa just two years ago after killing more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it rolled through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.